Under stylist Nico Formichetti's highly creative eye, Lady Gaga from being a talented singer with a penchant for crazy outfits to a full-fledged fashion phenomenon who manages to be both avant-garde performance artist and MTV-dominating pop star. The guy partly responsible for the meat dress talks about the making of it all.
In the beginning: Music vs. Fashion
“If you’re a high fashion stylist, you don’t touch music. That’s the rule. So when I started working with Gaga, people were really surprised. But I was in a place where I was feeling frustrated with myself. I had been in London for ten years and was ready for a change. I really liked her video for ‘Paparazzi’ and felt like she was taking it somewhere interesting. I loved her look. So I suggested her to a few magazines for a cover shoot. And they were like, ‘No. Who’s that?’ And then I pitched her to V magazine, which I work with, and they said ‘Sure, why not.’” They were the most supportive.
Like minds: When two ‘crazies’ become one
“We shot her in L.A. I wanted to take her somewhere else that she hadn’t been to. I wanted to bring her more into high fashion. I had brought all of these really amazing clothes—Givenchy, Chanel, Versace. So she shows up to the shoot at 8am in her whole look: Outfit, hair, makeup and heels. I was like, “This bitch is crazy. She’s living it.” That’s unheard of. Most celebrities turn up wanting you to dress them. I was mesmerized. And she had this great body with all these tattoos. I told her, ‘You should let me shoot you naked.’ She was like, ‘You have all these amazing clothes, why would you want to shoot me naked?’ I was like, ‘Fuck couture, let’s do naked.’ And she later told me, that’s when she knew that I was as crazy as she is. We connected.”
Fashion snobbery: Reeling in the couture
“In the beginning, it was tricky calling in clothes for Gaga because none of the designers wanted to work with her with the exception of Lee [Alexander McQueen] and Miuccia Prada. They were both supportive from the beginning. I remember every single designer who said no. I will never forget [Laughs.] And since then, every single designer has come back asking to work with her. So, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha [In a mock evil voice.] But seriously, who else would you want to see in your clothes? When I styled her in McQueen for ‘Bad Romance’ I just wanted to get her into the next phase of high, high, high concept. Lee said, ‘For me, she is the future.’”
Mugler: Taking it to the runway
“I’m not a designer, I never went to fashion school. And when I was offered the job, Gaga was the one who said, ‘Just do it in your own way.’ She’s not contracted to Mugler. We’re purely friends and just dialogue about it. She’s involved. When she walked in the show, she worked those heels better than the models! She wears high heels at yoga. And Gaga bought every piece and has been wearing them these past few months. But the clothes are ageless, they are for a woman with an attitude. We wanted them to be easy to wear. We focused on the fabrics and the silhouettes. I didn’t want to just do costumes that women couldn’t wear.”
Outfit changes: Seven in one go
“I don’t consider Gaga a celebrity. I consider her a performance artist. Celebrities on the red carpet selling a hideous dress—that concept is so Hollywood and fake and bland. In a way celebrity is the death of fashion. Gaga doesn’t work in that formula. She studies the fashion and art world. She’s not just wearing it. When we do the red carpet, we want it to be a bit off. We want it to mean something, like the egg at the Grammys. At our first VMA Awards — the one where she bled to death on stage — we did seven outfit changes that night. I was standing backstage with all of these safety pins. And they were like, ‘Who are these people?’ It was a little fashion show.”
One-up manship: No pressure
“I never look at it as Gaga and I trying to top the last outfit. We just both get bored easily. We’re always reading crazy, random things and emailing them to each other for inspiration. We don’t want our fans seeing the same thing over and over. We’ve had days when we just do the pared down denim and t-shirt, but then that becomes a statement in itself. I love denim and am always thinking of ways to do it so that it looks new. But she’s always in leather. That’s her. It’s hard to believe we’ve only been doing this together for two years.”
Follow this man’s Tumblr
Considering how spot-on Nicola Formichetti was in predicting that Gaga would be huger than huge. We picked his brain for another prediction. “Tumblr, Tumblr, Tumblr. Blogging is dead. It’s all about Twitter and Tumblr,” he says. “I love that Tumblr is so visually based. It’s huge. When one of my fans posts something on Tumblr and then they see me re-blog it, they go wild. That’s the amazing thing about the Internet, that it allows people to connect with their followers directly.”